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Summer arts calendar: Newcastle

NewcastleGateshead is gearing up for a summer full of art, theatre, music, food and festivals. Jon Corbett and Stephen Noble of Keep Your Eyes Open are your guides

Newcastle's top 10 budget eats
The Turner prize goes to Gateshead in October 2011

Evolution Festival, 28-29 May

Newcastle isn't a city famed for its large-scale music festivals, but this summer the spotlight will firmly be on Tyneside. Evolution will kick things off with a carnival of music and special events over two days on the banks of the Tyne. Plan B, Tinie Tempah and rock legends Iggy Pop and the Stooges are on the line-up for this year's weekender. The cream of the region's up and coming musical crop will also take over the neighbouring Ouseburn Valley as part of Evolution Emerging and the Happy Mondays' Shaun Ryder will DJ at the Riverside on Sunday at the after show house party.
• Newcastle Gateshead Quayside, weekend tickets £35 plus booking fee, day tickets £25 plus booking fee, 0844 248 5086,

Newcastle Community Green Festival, 4-5 June

Now entering its 16th year, the Newcastle Community Green festival follows the UN World Environment Week, and this year organisers promise to make it the most interactive and family-friendly festival they've had. There's a wide range of music across four renewably powered stages, a kids area, circus area and workshops on how to become a little greener. The community vibe among the 10,000 people filling up Leazes Park makes it one of the friendliest places to feel guilty about taking the car in to town that day.
• noon-6pm Leazes Park, free,

¡VAMOS! Festival, 4 June-10 July

Tyneside has something of a booming Latin American community, and for five years organisers of the ¡VAMOS! Festival have worked tirelessly in their bid to celebrate Spanish and Portuguese speaking cultures across Newcastle and Gateshead. ¡VAMOS! 2011 will launch with a Tyne Carnival procession through the streets of Newcastle on Saturday 4 June, ushering in five weeks of live Latin American music, food and film. The festival will feature Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling at the Sage Gateshead, a Revolution on Paper exhibition (focusing on the great age of Mexican printmaking) at the Hatton Gallery and a South American film season at the Star and Shadow cinema.
• Many events are free, others range from £5-20,

Behind The Scenes Weekend, 10-12 June

If you've ever wondered what resides in the vaults of an art gallery or fancied having a nosey backstage at your favourite theatre, this run of behind-the-scenes tours of Newcastle and Gateshead's cultural venues may be of interest. Tour guides will allow visitors to explore some of the region's most historic haunts including the Theatre Royal in Grainger Town, Northern Stage, based at the site of Newcastle's famous playhouse, and BALTIC, the international centre for contemporary visual arts on Gateshead's quayside. You'll gain access to spaces never seen before by the public.
• Free,

Robert Breer exhibition, 11 June-25 September

Spanning two levels in the BALTIC complex (pictured above), the most comprehensive exhibition of American artist Robert Breer, one of the most influential animator/filmmakers of modern times, brings together his paintings, ground-breaking films and radical sculptures from the last 60 years. There will also be a selection of films showing the work of Breer's influencers and peers, a tour by BALTIC curator Laurence Sillars and, at the Star and Shadow cinema, a seminar on his work by speakers Mat Fleming, Gary Thomas and avant garde champion Pip Chodorov.
• BALTIC events are free, Star and Shadow tickets £8, £6 concessions,

EAT! Festival, 17-26 June

Now in its fifth year, EAT! Festival aims to "advocate all the pleasures of creating and sharing good food and drink in the North East". EAT! has built up a solid reputation as a food festival like no other, encouraging food aficionados and those who think a Greggs pasty is a culinary high to come together and enjoy food in a friendly environment. Highlights include a street food festival, 10 Things To Eat Before You Die, and Eat-a-long Movies – where student chefs will recreate the dishes from foodie movies while you watch on screen: Mexican dishes will be served with Like Water For Chocolate and French with Julie and Julia. With more than 50 events, it's worth looking at the full programme.
• Prices and locations vary,

In The Long Run: Thirty Years of The Great North Run, 18 June-1 October

Having received critical acclaim last year for its portrayal of the world's largest half-marathon, the In The Long Run Exhibition is back for another term. Exploring the history and social significance of Bupa's Great North Run, this updated version of the exhibition will feature depictions of Newcastle cityscapes as well as artistic works from archives spanning three decades. Housed at the South Shields Museum, near the spot where thousands of runners cross the finishing line each year, this updated collection will be a fitting tribute to the region's cultural identity and one of the UK's most loved sporting events.
• South Shields Museum and Arts Gallery, free,

Ignition Festival, 6-7August

Post-punk giants Echo & The Bunnymen, fellow Merseysider Miles Kane and alternative folkster Frank Turner will get the party going at the north-east's latest musical gathering this summer at the 18,000 capacity rugby ground at Kingston Park. With a strong ethos on supporting the region's local talent, the line-up also features kitchen-sink indie diamonds the Little Comets, the hotly-tipped Let's Buy Happiness and BBC 6 Music darlings Grandfather Birds.
• Kingston Park, weekend tickets £50, single day £30,

Pitmen Painters at the Journal Tyne Theatre, 8-13 August

Following a sell out run at Newcastle's Live Theatre, Pitmen Painters went on to enjoy success on a national tour plus a stint in New York. But now it's returning home to play at the Journal Tyne. Adapted from a book by William Feaver and written by Lee Hall of Billy Elliot fame, the story revolves around a group of miners enrolling in an art appreciation class in 1930s industrial Ashington. Within a matter of years, the miners had the art world chattering with their creations, and this touching and often hilarious show is, as the Guardian said, "breathtaking in its scope".
• Tickets from £11.50-£28,

• Steve Noble is society editor and Jon Corbett the chief reporter of the arts and culture blog © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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